US Shelters Overwhelmed With the Number of Guinea Pig Surrenders

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Naomi Marcin/Shutterstock

Unfortunately, animal shelters all across the United States are noting a rise of abandoned pets this year, but one particular animal is topping the list, with an uptick of 25% when compared to last year’s statistics – guinea pigs. You might be surprised to learn that these small, fluffy animals are being surrendered in such high numbers, but the risings costs of food and gas are obviously having a big effect on the finances of pet parents, which are forced to abandon their pets due to being unable to care for them longer.

Guinea pigs are one of those pets that people often think are low maintenance and easy to care for, so it’s not unusual that many of them got adopted during the pandemic – but once people started to realize that basic costs of care for guinea pigs have significantly changed, so did the fate of these furry critters change as well. New York’s Animal Care Centers (ACC) reports that in comparison to last year's 200 surrendered guinea pigs, they’ve already had over 650 cases of abandoned guinea pigs.

It doesn’t help that most guinea pigs come from pet shops, either – when they are sold through a store, there’s no vetting process, which makes impulse buys possible. People often get guinea pigs for their kids and end up abandoning them when their children grow bored of their new pet, or decide on having a guinea pig pet thinking it’s low-maintenance and won’t need much attention, care, or space in the house – of course, this is is far from the truth. Once people realize that guinea pigs are an animal with needs like any other, which can live up to 10 years, need veterinary care, a special diet, and daily cleaning and social interaction, they quickly get overwhelmed and regret their decision. 

To make matters even worse, ACC is the only rescue in the area that actually takes in guinea pigs – pet rescues that accept small animals are generally considered rare. This begs the question what becomes of other unwanted guinea pigs – and how long before those few shelters that take them in become completely overwhelmed?

The best way to prevent such devastating situations is to think hard before getting any pet, no matter how low-maintenance or undemanding you think they are. Any pet you pick, no matter if it’s a dog, a fish, or a lizard, will have needs, from a balanced diet to proper housing to veterinary care and beyond. If you are not prepared to fully care for your animal for as long as they live, you shouldn’t even entertain the idea of getting one. What’s more, instead of buying small animals from a pet store, it’s always a better idea to seek out shelters local to your area that rescue small animals and adopt rather than shopping – not only will you help the shelters take in more small animal in need, but you’ll give your new pet a second chance at a happy, fulfilled life by your side. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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